OF JUDGMENT: 02/02/2018
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, HON. JANNIE M. LEWIS-BLACKMON JUDGE.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY:
MOLLIE MARIE McMILLIN.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY:
BARBARA WAKELAND BYRD.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: AKILLIE MALONE OLIVER.
Paul Barton appeals his convictions for possession of a
stolen firearm and possession of a firearm by a felon. On
appeal, Barton is represented by the Indigent Appeals
Division of the Office of State Public Defender. In the brief
filed by the Office of State Public Defender, Barton argues
that his indictment failed to allege an essential element of
the crime of possession of a stolen firearm and that the
evidence is insufficient to support the jury's verdict.
Barton also filed a pro se supplemental brief and asserted
that the State inappropriately used the phrase
"constructive possession" during Barton's trial
and that the cumulative error doctrine requires a reversal of
After our review, we find no error. We therefore affirm
Barton's convictions and sentences.
Officer Edward Ferrell of the Yazoo County Sheriff's
Department testified that on March 1, 2017, he and Officer
Cory Freeman received a dispatch and responded to a 911 call
from a woman named Doris concerning "a man chasing
someone in the yard with a weapon." When they arrived on
the scene, Doris informed Officer Ferrell that Barton was
chasing her grandson with a weapon. Doris told the officers
that Barton had left the scene prior to their arrival, and
she described what Barton was wearing.
After the officers spoke with Doris, Officer Freeman left to
search for Barton. Officer Freeman soon called Officer
Ferrell and alerted him that he had stopped a pick-up truck
and that Barton was the passenger. Officer Ferrell responded
to the scene and observed Officer Freeman with his weapon
drawn and pointed at the driver of the pick-up truck, telling
him to put the truck in park. Officer Ferrell identified
Robert Donelson as the driver and owner of the truck.
According to Officer Ferrell, Barton was in the passenger
seat of the truck, and Officer Freeman was yelling at Barton
"Quit reaching down!" Officer Freeman informed
Officer Ferrell that Barton had a gun, so Officer Ferrell
pulled out his weapon and pointed it at Barton. Officer
Ferrell testified that Barton began to comply with Officer
Freeman's instructions when Barton realized Officer
Ferrell had his weapon pointed at him. Barton exited the
truck, and Officer Freeman placed handcuffs on him.
Officer Ferrell testified that he and Officer Freeman then
went to the passenger side of the truck, opened the door, and
discovered a weapon "just laying right there, sticking
out up underneath the seat." Officer Ferrell ran the
serial number on the weapon and testified that the weapon had
been reported stolen.
Officer Freeman testified as follows: upon being dispatched
to the scene of the disturbance, the 911 dispatcher informed
him that "a Mr. Paul Barton was chasing a child . . .
and had a hand gun." The 911 dispatcher informed Officer
Freeman that Barton was wearing a white t-shirt and dark
colored jeans. Upon arriving at the scene, Doris informed him
that Barton had already left the scene. As he was talking to
Doris, Officer Freeman observed a white truck drive by and
spotted Barton inside of the truck. Officer Freeman "ran
and jumped" into his patrol car and caught up with the
truck, where he then performed a traffic stop.
As Officer Freeman approached the driver-side window of the
truck, he observed Barton, who was in the passenger seat,
"trying to conceal something" underneath the seat.
Officer Freeman clarified that he could see Donelson's
hands at all times. He trained his weapon on Barton and
ordered Barton to show his hands, but Barton refused. He
testified that Barton eventually complied and raised his
hands, but when he did, Officer Freeman "heard something
drop . . . [and] hit the bolts on the bottom of the
floorboard." (Officer Freeman stated at trial that
"it was like a weapon over there.") He ordered
Barton and Donelson to exit the vehicle, and he placed Barton
in handcuffs. Officer Freeman then opened the door on the
passenger side of the truck and found a handgun.
Officer Freeman testified that upon discovering the weapon,
he handed it to Officer Ferrell, and the two officers ran the
serial number. Dispatch informed the officers "that the
handgun was stolen out of Madison[, Mississippi]."
Officer Freeman testified that he asked Barton who the weapon
belonged to, and Barton denied that it was his weapon.
L.Q. Boyd Jr. testified at trial that he owned the weapon
Officer Freeman had discovered. Boyd testified that the gun
was stolen, but he did not know who had stolen it. Boyd
testified that he did not know Barton and did not give his
gun to Barton or let Barton borrow it.
After the State rested, the defense made a motion for a
directed verdict and argued the State failed to prove beyond
a reasonable doubt that Barton had a gun in his possession or
that Barton knew the gun was stolen. The trial court denied
the motion for a directed verdict, explaining that the State
"has put forth a prima facie case of constructive
possession" of a stolen firearm.
Donelson, the driver of the truck, also testified at trial.
Donelson denied seeing Barton with a weapon that day.
Donelson stated that he has known Barton for approximately
five years and could not recall ever seeing Barton with a
gun. Donelson also denied seeing Barton drop a weapon or try
to conceal a weapon during the traffic stop. Donelson
testified that another man, Main Gainwell, rode in the
passenger seat of his truck earlier that same day. However,
Donelson stated that he has never seen Gainwell with a gun.
Investigator Terry Gann of the Yazoo County Sheriff's
Department testified that he investigated the 911 call from
March 1, 2017, and also worked to identify the stolen weapon.
Investigator Gann testified that Barton denied any
involvement with the gun. Investigator Gann explained at
trial that he was unable to locate any fingerprints on the
gun, testifying, "You don't find fingerprints on a
weapon. You'd luckily get it on a flat smooth surface.
There were no ...